START program: hiring incentive

The START Program helps connect employers with unemployed Nova Scotians who can fill their job vacancies. For employers, START offers a wage incentive and other types of funding if they hire an unemployed Nova Scotian. For unemployed individuals, START provides a letter that helps them market their skills and the program to potential employers.

The START Program helps employers find and attract the people they need. Employers can receive funding when they hire eligible unemployed Nova Scotians to fill their job vacancies.

You can apply to the program as an employer or as an individual.

START for employers

START for individuals

START for employers

Different types of funding are available for employers, depending on the type of employment offered, the employer’s needs and the employee’s skill level.

Wage incentive

Wage incentives help offset some of the salary and benefit costs related to hiring a new employee.
Preference is given to employers who can offer full-time, sustainable employment. Short-term jobs may be eligible if they help the employee develop transferrable skills that can improve their chances of finding other employment in the future, or if they’re related to a priority sector or industry where a short-term contract is being implemented.

Employment Nova Scotia determines wage incentive amounts on a case-by-case basis, considering :

  • type of employment offered
  • wages offered
  • employee’s skill level
  • how long the employee has been looking for work

whether the position supports a priority sector in Nova Scotia (like ocean technology, information and communication technology, financial services, clean technology, life sciences or aerospace and defence)
Other factors may also be considered.

Training costs

Employers can get funding to help cover some of the costs of training the new employee.

Equipment and other costs

Employers can get funding to cover some of the cost of equipment or other direct costs associated with the new employee.

Employer eligibility

START is available to small or medium-sized employers, including businesses, not-for-profit organizations and social enterprises, that are located in Nova Scotia and whose employees live and work in the province. These employers may have headquarters outside Nova Scotia but must have a physical location in the province and must have employees working in the province.

Employers need to apply for the START Program before they hire an employee. If you hire a new employee before applying for START, you won’t be eligible for funding.

How to apply

When you apply online you need to create a LaMPSS Account or sign in.

Start now

Make sure you’ve read the START Program Guidelines before you apply.

START for individuals

If you’re unemployed and looking for work, you can use the START Program to help promote yourself to potential employers.

You can apply to receive a START Marketing Letter from Employment Nova Scotia. You can use the letter in your job search to tell employers that they may be eligible to receive funding from the START Program if they hire you.


To apply for the START program as an individual, you must be:

  • unemployed
  • a resident of Nova Scotia
  • a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or an international graduate who meets eligibility requirements

How to apply

Contact a Nova Scotia Works Employment Services Centre to discuss your situation. If you’re eligible, they’ll help you submit your application.

Related information

Contact Information

Employment Nova Scotia